Because swimsuit season is nearly upon us, for this edition of the Best. Really, we spoke to more than a dozen stylish women, from stylists to fashion editors to musicians, about their favorite bikini, or two-piece, bathing suits. Each person sent along personal recommendations — based on fit, style, body type, and activity (could you surf in it? Is it more of a sunbathing suit?) — which we used as a blueprint to find some similar options to round out your search.
For a High-Waisted Fit
High-waisted styles, which have reemerged since their heyday in the ’40s and ’50s, were popular among the women I surveyed for their modest, slimming effect and “throwback feel.” Kristen Nichols, an associate editor at Who What Wear, directed us to French brand Oséree’s “lumière” bikini set for their fit and style. “The high-waisted bottoms have a waist-defining effect that I’m always missing, with a low-slung style, but my favorite part is its metallic glitter finish,” she said.
Aza Ziegler, the designer behind surf-inspired brand Calle del Mar, prefers Pale Swimwear’s high-waisted bottoms, which “make me feel like a ’50s movie star and fit like the comfiest shorts.” If you’re looking for something with personality and structure, we would also recommend one of Marysia’s Instagrammable retro suits — the scalloped edges are a nice touch.
For a Colorful Print
If you prefer something punchier, but high-waisted, Hana Elion of the band Overcoats recommends New York–based designer Mara Hoffman, who’s known for her graphic prints and bold colors. Elion was drawn to this high-waisted bikini because of her “love for a graphic print,” plus “modesty and coolness reasons,” though if you’re not a fan of the style, Hoffman also makes vibrant one-pieces and low-rise bikinis.
Celebrity favorite Solid & Striped also makes bold bikini separates for about half the price, and Araks does very elegant color-blocking, too (lots of stylish women love their lingerie for that same reason).
At a Lower Price Point
Or, if you’re not looking to spend more than $60 on a set, J.J. Mitchell (the other half of Overcoats) suggested this COS bikini that she bought because the green reminded her of La La Land. “The drawstring halter does wonders for my chest during a sunbathing session, but also it’s a bikini that stays put when I’m surfing, sailing, and windsurfing,” she said.
Strategists like myself also shop COS’s bathing suits in the summer because it’s hard to beat the quality and the price point (I just purchased this understated one-piece), though I feel like & Other Stories’ suits nail that Mara Hoffman look, on a budget. If you want something no-frills and affordable, Lively has a good selection of muted separates, and Topshop is also a trusty place to go if you want a range of styles and prints at a lower price point.
For a Better Tan
To prevent any wonky tan lines, you’ll want something with thin, supportive straps, like this style that sister duo Sarah and Joanna Halpin, the founders of style collective What She Said, recommended. They discovered Australian swim brand Matteau via social media, and ever since, it’s been their go-to for “comfort, support, ease, and minimal tan lines.” Simple high-cut styles work for that, too, like Calle del Mar’s ’90s-style knitted bottoms and comfy bandeau tops, or an affordable bandeau like this with removable straps.
For a Bigger Bust
The founder of jewelry line Fade to Black Studio, Tatiana Ikasovic, also recommended a minimal Matteau suit, but for busty women. “I think Australian designers really understand swimwear, as we spend so much time on the beach,” she says. “This one has the perfect cut and style, since I have a bigger bust, and don’t like wearing overwhelming patterns or unnecessary padding.”
Another site that offers a range of styles for bigger bust sizes (up to size 34) is Swimsuits for All, which Bustle fashion and beauty features editor Amanda Richards suggested: “They have anything from sporty swimwear to boring one-pieces (which I love) to Ashley Graham’s super-sexy, super-revealing collection in a wide range of sizes.”
For a Flat Chest
If you’re flat-chested and just want to accentuate what you’ve got, fashion marketing associate Keena Bautista says, “It’s always good to opt for ruffles and anything frilly.” She recommends this feminine suit by Hawaiian label Made by Dawn for an added boost of confidence. Should you want more of a supported, push-up effect, stylist Lotta-Liina Lavanti also loves a good retro swimsuit with underwire, like hers from Lahana Swim, since “it reminds me of the bikinis girls used to wear in California in the late ’90s.”
For a Plus-Size Fit
Plus-size bathing suits can be tricky in terms of support, but Richards says you can always find great options at ASOS Curve and Eloquii. “ASOS Curve has really great swimwear for plus-size women up to a size 24 — the styles are usually pretty chic and not so fussy or overly sexy. Eloquii’s pieces are a bit more niche stylistically, but they are very high quality and well-made for plus-size bodies.”
Alix Tunell, senior beauty editor at Refinery29, loves Malia Mills’s swimsuits and notes that they size up for curvier women, too (sizing extends to a size F in tops, and a size 16 in bottoms). “The suits fit like great lingerie should — no digging, no readjusting required, even after a huge wave knocks you over — and come in material that feels far too nice to get wet,” she says.
For a Secure Fit
Because you might be more interested in getting in the water than laying out, stylist Rebecca Dennett suggests this style from Tuulikki, a brand whose philosophy is swimwear that stays put: “Whether you are surfing in it, jumping into a river, or just laying out on the beach like me — nothing is moving! You won’t be having that feeling of when you’re underwater knowing your top has popped off.” She says the fit is super flattering and comfortable for curvier girls, too.
Another brand with an athletic focus is New York–based brand Flagpole, whose designs are created to be stylish and sturdy enough to surf in (though they tend to skew on the pricey side).
For a Mom
A busy mom might gravitate toward a one-piece if she wants more coverage, but should you want a comfortable bikini with some give, photographer Danielle Aceino recommends Aare Swim’s two-pieces. “As a woman and a mother, I was searching for a suit that would help me feel ‘myself’ again after nearly exclusively wearing maternity clothes, and theirs is edgy but flattering to my newly earned softer hips and stomach. I appreciate that I can look and feel stylish and fun while also being able to comfortably chase the little ones.”
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